Washington Nationals Minor Leagues: Players Of The Week (4/20-4/26)

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 Hagerstown Suns (8-9)

 Hitter Of The Week: 3B Grant DeBruin (.340, 0 HR, 7 RBI’s)

After making honorable mention last week, DeBruin gets the honor of hitter of the week because he’s been putting up hits in bunches for the Suns, especially in the last five games. During DeBruin’s current five game hitting streak, he has put up nine hits, including two three-hit performances. He has 18 hits on the season, which is six more than any other Suns player.

In addition to the five game hit streak, he has a RBI in each of his last three games and has put up a .400 on-base percentage, which is just outside the top ten in the South Atlantic League. Considering this is DeBruin’s first season in minor league baseball after being in the Frontier League last year, he is off to an excellent start.

 Honorable Mention: CF Alec Keller (.333, 0 HR, 1 RBI’s)

 While the Suns are the second worst team in the South Atlantic League in terms of total hits, a name to keep an eye going forward is Alec Keller. The 22-year old out of Princeton University has two three-hit games in the last four game series for the Suns against Lakewood over the weekend.

Last season, the 17th round pick in the 2014 MLB Draft did not get much time with the Auburn Doubledays (short-season Single A) as he only received ten at-bats. This month, Keller has been used in the leadoff spot and has four of his 12 hits when leading off an inning. In his senior season at Princeton, he was an all-Ivy League selection and hit .378 with four home runs and 17 RBI’s. Could Keller be the spark that gets the Suns offense going?

 Pitcher Of The Week: SP Austen Williams (3-1, 0.83)

 For the second straight week, Williams wins pitcher of the week. The 22-year old right hander made two starts this past week and was very good in each of them. In a combined 12 innings of work, he gave up one run on seven hits, struck out 11, and walked one. Currently, Wiliams is third in the South Atlantic League in ERA and is tied for seventh in WHIP (0.88)

One of the things that Williams gives this Hagerstown Suns is the ability to save the bullpen on occasion because he can go deep into games, especially at this level. Williams’ 21.2 innings are third in the SAL, behind two players in Ty Buttrey and Justin Kamplain, who share the SAL lead at 22 innings pitched. Right now, Williams is the proverbial ace of a Hagerstown team that has a 3.10 ERA, which is third in the league.

 Honorable Mention: SP Phillips Valdez (1-1, 1.80)

After struggling with his command in his first start of the season, Valdez The right hander from the Dominican Republic has been able to hold the opposition off the scoreboard in each of his last two starts. In those outings, he has thrown a combined 11 innings, given up nine hits without allowing a run and has struck out seven batters.

Valdez came into this season off of great momentum from the way he finished 2014. However, at the end of last season, Hagerstown used him strictly out of the bullpen. In 12 appearances, he went 2-0 with a 1.21 ERA and held opponents to a .128 batting average. It will be interesting to track how Hagerstown uses Valdez going forward and whether he will go back to a bullpen role or remain in the rotation.

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